Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Severn River Scenic Land Trust Event


You should try to attend this very important event. I'm going to be playing guitar and singing and trying to convince people to deed their land into a trust to prevent overdevelopment in the region.

Thanks,
Dan

Monday, August 27, 2007

It's a...


BOY!

Emery and I are going to be the proud parents. The date, so the experts say, is December 26th. He will soon have a name. Emery and I have some good ones picked out. Here he is now... all smiles and what not.

It has put a smile on my face that I don't think will ever go away.

All the best,

Dan, Emery and Son!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Peep Watching and the Best Restaurants

To say today was hot and humid would be an understatement. The only cooling breeze occured while walking (moving). No matter. Andy Sprenger, the skilled Caffee Pronto coffee roaster and one superb birder, and I visited two spots on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. It was a rewarding, fun and like I said before... toasty.

Yet again, I have found that Willow Oaks are preferred by 3 out of 4 birds looking for a bite to eat. I learned this trick from a guide Emery and I had on a birding excursion last January in Costa Rica. It's simple really; if you want to see the birds, go to the trees that have all the food. This guide earned his tip (and then some) by taking us to one large tree, which I think was a Wild Avocado, that was dripping with birds. In it were FOUR species of Toucan, a Toucanette, a Trogon, Flycatchers, a large Woodpecker and hundreds of other birds. Not only was it easy birding, it was literally one lifer after another! In some cases, these amazing birds were perched on the same branch. Ok, so it was our first visit to Costa Rica. Still, that same strategy works well here in Maryland too.

Please enjoy some photos from our Costa Rica trip (along with some of the birds that were in that tree I mentioned).





Mot Mot... Why Not?

Well, the closest thing here in Maryland (that I've found) is the Willow. I've got no idea why, or any actual proof, but what can I say? It's been a lucky tree species for me.

So, without further ado, today's results:


Terrapin Park on Kent Island: 9:30am - 12:45pm

Wood Duck
Belted Kingfisher
Eastern Kingbird
Great Blue Heron
Mallard
Forsters Tern
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Blue Gray Gnatcather
Northern Cardinal
Carolina Wren
Tufted Titmouse
Hairy Woodpecker
Carolina Chickadee
Prarie Warbler
Downy Woodpecker
Red Eyed Vireo
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
American Goldfinch
Red Winged Blackbird
Willow Flycatcher (*heard)
European Starling
Royal Tern
Ring Billed Gull
Herring Gull
Snowy Egret
Great Black Backed Gull
Double Crested Cormorant
Ruby Throated Hummingbird
Northern Mockingbird
American Crow
Common Grackle
Blue Jay
Lesser Yellow Legs
Solitary Sandpiper
Short Billed Dowitcher
Least Sandpiper
Red Shouldered Hawk
Purple Martin
House Finch
Coopers Hawk
Broad Winged Hawk
Bald Eagle

Here are some photos of the PEEPS! They are a tricky ID indeed...






Queen Anne's Sod Farm: 2:00pm-2:30pm

Buff Breasted Sandpiper
Eastern Bluebird
Killdeer
Horned Lark
Chipping Sparrow
Northern Mockingbird
Hummingbird
Barn Swallow
Blue Grosbeak
Chimney Swift



And then we spotted a chicken at Chesapeake Chicken. It was delicious.

Enjoy your week.

Dan

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Nighthawks after Dinner

Emery and I went to Lemongrass (by the Annapolis Mall) for a dinner tonight. My how we do love that Thai food. After our meal, Emery wanted to go the mall to get a non-stick pan. Me? I wanted to quickly visit the parking lot at the Waterworks Park in Annapolis. After all, it's a half mile down the street and I needed one more bird.

You see, I am doing this thing called eBird. I was at 66 bird species for the year. The actual number is a bit higher, I just haven't put in old data. However, up until last month, I never really kept accurate records. This will help. I have some concerns about how accurate the maps are (for example, random people shouldn't know where rare birds nest), how accurate the posts are (all of us at one time or another could see something that really wasn't there), and I think there needs to be some local version with some control over the the content. But aside from that, it's quite useful. I believe that it can truly have a positive impact on birding and what's more, add data to the argument that the world around us needs our immediate and constant attention and protection.

Enough about eBird, no back to the story. I wanted one more bird for the day. And for Emery and myself, tonight's bird was a LIFER. Some of you may have seen these many times over in the night skies. But I say again, birding is a relatively new passion for me. "What bird was it?" you ask.

The Common Nighthawk. I really believed that I might be able to see one tonight. There have been sighting reported on the MDOSPREY email listserv. It may have been the Thai food, but tonight I could sense a lifer in my bones. Two minutes after we arrived, I look up and see one... then two... then none. A moment later, Emery had counted 19 of them flocking about above our heads in the darkening evening sky! Emery is a natural at this bird counting thing. I think that there were far more than 19 Nighthawks, simply because of the tree line and how much of the sky that we could not see from our vantage point. Alas, the storm of all storms started to open up the sky, so the comfort of the car was the best option.

67 birds for the year, the month, the week, and as far as eBird is concerned... my LIFE. I know it to be many, many more. I should've been taking better notes. I'll make a note to myself to do better next time.

And we did manage to get the non-stick pan as well! What a night.

Good birding,

Dan

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Don't forget your Purse... Purse State Park, that is.

Today I was working in Charles County. I work with the schools (selling supplies, furniture and materials of instruction for a fantastic company called School Specialty), so I am lucky to able to squeeze in some birding between school visits. Back-to-School is a busy time of year. Today after my meeting with all of Charles County's High School Art Teachers in LaPlata, I decided to venture off and visit some schools well off the beaten path. While travelling the highways of the Western Shore of Southern Maryland today, I stopped by Purse State Park. Needless to say, it was well worth the detour.

The moment I stepped out of the 'school supply mobile' I came face to face with a very large, very adult BALD EAGLE. Normally, Eagles are ho hum... I mean, they're off the endangered species list now, right? But, literally, it was flying towards me (in slooow motion it seemed) about 20 feet over my head, and then it turned and flew off down the tree lined road. So I decided to stay a while and look / listen for what else might be hanging around this great stretch of road. In a two mile area, I saw...

4 Great Blue Heron
3 Osprey
5 Bald Eagle
*There were two seperate pairs, the one single I mentioned (above), and a lone Juv. It could have been as many as 7, but I can't be sure that I wasn't seeing the same individuals.
3 Belted Kingfisher
1 Downy Woodpecker
3 Eastern Wood-Pewee
1 Acadian Flycatcher
1 Eastern Phoebe
2 American Crow
2 Carolina Chickadee
1 White-breasted Nuthatch
3 American Goldfinch

I would recommend this road/area for 'driving while birding' as the main road is so quiet, you could park and listen and look without having a car pass by for ten minutes at a time (MD 224 / Riverside Road). There are lots of great marsh areas to view on either side of the road, interrupted by rather dense forest areas, and Purse State Park is small, but great. It is a short hike from the small lot to the river banks.
On a side note, I did bring home a slew of very, very, very small tick-like creatures. I noticed them biting my knees by the time I got to Waldorf on the way home. I knew I was in trouble. I'm still itchy! I was dressed in a sport coat and tie (you know, typical rugged birding attire?), so I didn't cover myself with DEET before venturing off the road. When will I learn? Do you think the birds appreciate the tie?
Good birding,

Dan Haas

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Blue Grosbeak

It's been amazing weather. At the very least, it's not typical for August in Maryland. The temps these last few days have been hovering in the 70's and the skies have finally, at long last, opened up. The garden in the yard may actually look healthy for a change!

In any case, I took Oiseau for a trip to Greenbury Point for some ball. We saw Purple Martins feeding up high, a Green Heron, a Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, two Kingbirds in aerial combat, American Goldfinch everywhere and even a trio of Osprey flying and yelling about the place. They didn't look like locals. The best bird of our hour visit was a Blue Grosbeak. That's Bill Hubick's photography. Fun.

While I was at John Hanson Middle School in Charles County for work today, I had to stop for more than a minute to admire thirty or so Chimney Swifts flying in and around the gray brick smoke stack on the side of the school. I love that I am able to do even the slightest bit of birding during my workday, even if means only looking up as I enter or exit a school. Being aware of the little things makes the thought of presenting art to twenty art educators seem like no big deal. It's a constant way to shape the day's perspective.

Here are two photos of some odd bugs I noticed on a plant at the entrance to the Visitor Center at Greenbury Point. Enjoy.





-Dan
ps. Tomorrow, I'll be kayaking... weather permitting. I am hoping to see something interesting.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Week In Review

Wednesday afternoon I was kayaking on Weems Creek in Annapolis with my Golden Retriever (Oiseau). I saw this very small heron fly out of some grasses, hugging the shoreline and then it went out of sight. A few seconds later, I saw it fly back and to a rocky shore with grasses very near to where I was sitting (with dog on board). I slowly paddled over and got within 4-5 feet before Oiseau decided to jump up.

The bird in question stood motionless until my dog decided to try to exit the kayak, and then immediately flew off.

It had a dark head, yellowish-gray thin legs and a light grayish chest and body. It wasn't thick in the neck and bill like a Green or Black-Crowned Night Heron (which I've seen around Weems Creek before). It was small and more slight.... easily less than 12" H standing. It did do some sqwaucking as it flew off into some thicker grass.

What was it? Well, my thoughts were that the bird in question was a Least Bittern. It could be a Black Crowned Night Heron however. Sometime soon I will go back for a second look in the hopes of confirming this ID.

On Saturday morning, I decided to get up early after a long night of rock and rolling in downtown Annapolis. I recently got a permit to the Annapolis Waterworks Park.


It's a great little oasis in the overdevolped urban blah of Annapolis. This morning between 8 and 10 AM I saw...

Northern Flicker
Eastern Wood Pewee
Amercian Goldfinch
Belted Kingfisher
Tree Swallow (first in a while... it's been mostly barns for the past month)
Cedar Waxwing (This bird was all alone and at a distance, so I can't rule out a Bohemian Waxwing)
Chickadee
Osprey
Great Blue Heron
Black Vulture
American Robin
Mourning Dove
Northern Cardinal
Pileated Woodpecker (heard)
Yellow Breasted Chat (heard)
Turkey Vulture
Red Tailed Hawk
Eastern Kingbird
Tufted Titmouse

I look forward to many more visits as fall migration heats up.

This morning (Sunday) I dropped by for a quick visit to the Greenbury Point Nature Center and Mulching facility. Not too much to speak of really. Two Osprey, three Ruby Throated Hummingbirds (a male, female and juv), a few Mourning Dove, American Goldfinch, American Crows, American Robin, two Great Blue Herons, a Chipping Sparrow, a Winter Wren and several Mockingbirds. I heard one Bobwhite and then the rain came... thankfully.

It wasn't much rain, so I decided to venture out to the Annapolis Waterworks park for the second day in a row. I've heard that the day after a cold front moves in is even better than the first. It's true. There were warblers abound, more Cedar Waxwings then I've ever seen in one place and two Northern Waterthrush. But, the best bird was a Black and White Warbler that decided to get within three feet of me near the parking lot. Phishing will do that you know. I don't know my warbler songs all that well, so I will not go out on a limb to say I heard any particular bird. As I get better, I'll let you know.


Louisiana Waterthrush


And one more


My feet hiking.


The wildflowers are cool.


The complete list:
Blue Gray Gnatcatcher OR a Red Eyed Vireo (1) feeding a baby Brown Headed Cowbird (1)
Cedar Waxwing (numerous)
Black and White Warbler (1)
Louisiana Waterthrush (2)
House Wren (1)
Mourning Dove (2)
Eastern Phoebe (2 heard / 1 seen)
Bald Northern Cardinal (1)
Regular Northern Cardinal (4)
Barn Swallow (1)
American Goldfinch (many)
Black Vulture (1)
Turkey Vulture (1)
Yellow warbler (heard)
Downy Woodpecker (2)
Northern Flicker (2)
White breasted nuthatch (1)
Red-eyed Vireo (1 heard / 1 seen)
Chimney Swift (1)
Blue Gray Gnatcatcher (1 seen / 1 heard)
Chickadee (numerous)
Tufted Titmouse (numerous)
Osprey (1)
Song Sparrow (1 heard)
Great Blue Heron (1)
Blue Jay (1)


See, a tree. Ah, but look closer and...

... you'll see a Great Blue Heron.



Be well,

Dan

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Blues are still nesting AND other sightings...

Here is the latest in my little birding world. I saw a few things last week of note. On my trip to Merkle Wildlife Refuge in Prince Georges County, MD, I got to view an immature White Ibis. It took me two trips. On the first trip, with my scope and camera, I managed to see a Little Blue Heron, some Purple Martins (which I always enjoy) and not that this is too impressive, but a Red-Winged Blackbird. The bird, I thought, contrasted well amoungst the lights green of the grasses.



The Little Blue Heron.




One of the many Purple Martins.




That Red-Winged Blackbird that I mentioned earlier.




Ah yes, and the White Ibis. I should mention that this photo was taken using an iPhone pressed up one of the lenses of my binoculars. Not bad, eh?




One more of the rare White Ibis.




On Sunday, I went to check on the last straglers of Bluebirds who are STILL laying eggs! I love it. On my journey to peer in to the many boxes on the Naval Academy Golf Course here in Annapolis, I took a little wooded trail (above). It was there, and a few other places / habitats on Greenbury Point, that I saw...

4 Wood Thrush
1 Chickadee
2 Barn Swallow
1 Purple Martin
7 Bluebirds
1 Chimney Swift
2 Northern Cardinals
1 Tufted Titmouse
1 Blue Jay
1 Eastern Kingbird
2 Carolina Wren
1 Osprey
AND I SAW MANY
American Robins
American Crows
Mourning Doves
Chipping Sparrows w/ fledglings
Goldfinches

and...

1 Coopers Hawk. This swift flying raptor flew over my head, down the wooded path and up into the trees. A few moments later, it flew back up under the tree canopy and above the path towards me with something in it's talons. It was being chased by two smaller birds that I couldn't make out (mockingbirds would be my guess) in all the commotion. I wonder if it raided a nest, or was being mobbed? All the same, it was quite an adventureous hike.

I didn't hear the Northern Bobwhites out on the point. Finally, while I was back in the woods, I heard the strangest call. It was a scream, no... more like a wailing scream. I thought it was a raptor of some kind... but, I'm still learning. I carry around my Stokes guide and my BirdJam on my iPhone for reference. No luck.

On Saturday evening I saw a Black-Crowned NIght Heron on Weems Creek. Also of note, on Sunday morning I heard a Red-Eyed Vireo and saw a Green Heron at Quiet Waters Park while walking the dogs.




ABOVE and BELOW: Here are five little Bluebirds that about to fledge (if they haven't already).




Good birding,

Dan Haas
West Annapolis, MD
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